Sunday, September 21, 2014

From Gluges to Martel and back, 11.5 km (7.13 miles), Day 6

I seriously thought about spending today lounging by the pool with my book.  When we arrived yesterday I couldn't believe how tired I was...and hot and sweaty with blisters burning.  I laid down on the bed and fell asleep almost instantly.  Woke up later with a start, took some Ibuprofen, and got into the shower.  Feeling incredibly refreshed and all my aches and pains miraculously gone, I started thinking maybe another day really was possible.  By breakfast this morning, I was raring to go.

We found out early on that we were sometimes walking on a pilgrimage trail for St. James.  Shells mark the path.  The Camino de Santiago, also known by the English names of Way of St. James and Road to Santiago, is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes, including Camino Frances or French Route, to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain.

Shortly after leaving the town with the sound of church bells ringing, we started up a steep path that originally dates back to the 1600s when it was used by apothecaries gathering herbs and plants for their tisanes, lotions and medicines.  The path was formerly known as Chemin des herbes.  After ascending then descending then ascending again, the path leveled out and our notes suggested a short detour to see an old shepherd's hut.

After awhile we decided to head back and relax for the rest of the day.  The weather was again perfect with a slight breeze.  This is another suggested detour along the way, a view point over the Dordogne.  The notes also suggested a shortcut back to Martel but warned that you would need trekking poles and not be afraid of heights.  I was initially against it--neither of us had trekking poles--but once we were at this viewpoint, I figured it couldn't be that bad.  And it wasn't.  All down hill, though quite steep, down another trail and into town.

We stopped for a leisurely cafe creme in Martel, then wandered through medieval streets for awhile.  We sat at a nice crepe place for lunch but the waitress indicated that we couldn't order any food, tapping her watch.  It was 11:50 so I suppose it was too early.  One thing we've found, there is VERY little English spoken in this area.  We walked around some more then found a bakery that had "sandwiches on demand."

Covered market square in Martel

A short stretch of road and we were back and beside the pool.

We rested up thoroughly and Chuck talked to the chef, husband of Francois, about dinner and when--7:30 he said.  So, trying not to be too eager, we strolled downstairs at 7:40.  But, Francois and her husband, plus a couple with a small child were relaxing out on the patio with drinks.  We scurried back upstairs.

After some discussion, we decided they must be friends or family and they were waiting for us to get our dinner over with so they could eat.  So, we hustled back downstairs at 7:50.  We walked out and Francois jumped up and seated us.  We then began our complicated no French/no English conversation about what was for dinner.  We heard something like salmon and nodded and said OK and Merci.  She came back with lemon scented wet wipes.  We were trying to figure out why we needed that for salmon.  Then she breezed out and served us crayfish.  We tried valiantly to unshell them with a knife and fork but after splashing ourselves with the butter sauce, we gave up.  Thank god no one else was in the restaurant.  I was sweating as I frantically tore the shells off all 3 pieces with my fingers, hoping no one would walk in.  My fingers were dripping butter and when I had my nice 3 pieces of crayfish, I couldn't open the wet wipe because my fingers were so slippery.  We both managed it eventually and without discovery and they were delicious.

This is the mess we left behind.  How do people do it with the provided knife and fork?

Francoise cleared our plates and then came back to replace our silverware with a fish knife and special fork.  Ah ha!  We're getting salmon as the main course!  Or so it seemed.  Except the "salmon" was a white fish, topped with a sauce and vegetables with some wonderful rice with a very subtle curry flavor.  It was all scrumptious.  I'm beginning to think Chuck is becoming a foodie.  He actually asked me "is that tarragon?"

Francois came back later to discuss dessert.  A lot of it was beyond my capability to understand but I got the impression that we might be getting two desserts.  Yep.  A little of last night's cake and an incredible creme brulee.  We actually had to chip through the topping.  This one may  be the best yet.

We've had an extraordinary time walking and eating our way through the villages of the Dordogne.  We will remember this part of our trip as another highlight.  Tomorrow is another day and another experience.


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